• WisPolitics

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

 5:26 PM 

Sunday's Biden event set for National Railroad Museum in Green Bay

Barack Obama's Wisconsin campaign says this weekend's event with Vice President Joe Biden will be held at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, with doors set to open at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets will be available starting at noon on Thursday at the following locations:

Green Bay Office
118 S. Chestnut St.
Green Bay, WI

Appleton Office
506 W. College Ave.
Appleton, WI

Oshkosh Office
480 N. Main St.
Oshkosh, WI

 4:04 PM 

American Chemistry Council running TV ad praising Thompson

The American Chemistry Council Inc. is running a TV ad that calls Tommy Thompson “a proven leader who’s worked hard for us.”

The spot opens with a narrator says hard work is a way of life in Wisconsin and Thompson will work in the Senate to fight to expand domestic energy production, support small business, and cut spending and red tape to grow the economy and create jobs.

“Tommy Thompson, the experience we need in Washington, a senator who’ll work for Wisconsin,” the narrator says to close the spot.

-- By JR Ross

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

 1:02 PM 

Biden to campaign Sunday in Green Bay

Vice President Joe Biden will campaign Sunday in Green Bay, a campaign spokeswoman said.

Obama spokeswoman Gillian Morris said details on the trip will be forthcoming later this week.

-- By Staff

Monday, August 27, 2012

 12:22 PM 

Ryan tells send-off rally 'we can turn this thing around'

Photo: Lukas Keapproth/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
JANESVILLE -- U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan told a packed gymnasium at his former high school this morning that "it is not too late to get this right" as he prepares to accept the Republican nomination for vice president this week.

"We are not going to duck the tough issues and kick the can down the road," Ryan pledged to the Craig High School crowd at a send-off rally before heading to the Republican National Convention in Tampa. "We are going to lead."

Introduced by brother Toby and taking the stage with his family, Ryan told the raucous crowd, "It's good to be home."

Ryan acknowledged that his hometown as been hit hard by the economic downturn in recent years, but told the story of two friends who found new careers after being hit by layoffs in the city's manufacturing sector.

"That's the kind of thing we need to do is pick ourselves up," Ryan said, saying what's important is that "our government works for the people and not the other way around."

"This is a defining moment for our country. This is not an ordinary election, this is not an ordinary time," Ryan said. "We are picking the pathway for America for a generation."

He praised running mate Mitt Romney as a man of integrity who'd created thousands of jobs, while blasting President Obama for his record on the economy.

"We've seen what the president has offered," Ryan added. "It's a nation in debt. It's a nation in doubt. It's a nation in decline."

The congressman reiterated criticisms of Obama from the 2008 campaign, referencing Obama's comments at a fundraiser that some voters "cling to guns and religion" and comments in Ohio that he hoped to "spread the wealth around."

"Every now and then the president, in moments of candor, tells us what he really thinks," Ryan charged.

"It's this economic school of thought, this belief, that the economic pie of life is somehow fixed."

UPDATE: The Romney campaign has posted on YouTube video of Ryan's speech.

-- By Andy Szal

 10:28 AM 

Erpenbach, Minneapolis mayor criticize Ryan ahead of send-off rally

JANESVILLE -- State Sen. Jon Erpenbach and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak took shots at the GOP ticket as an Obama campaign bus tour stopped in U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan's hometown this morning -- coinciding with a rally to send the vice presidential candidate off to the Republican National Convention.

"Wherever they possibly can, they want to privatize," Erpenbach, D-Middleton, said at a press conference at the Obama campaign's Janesville office. He charged that a Romney administration would seek to cut taxes for millionaires and turn over Medicare and Social Security to the private market.

"That's something that we just don't want," Erpenbach said.

Rybak charged that Romney's selection of Ryan "outsourced" the former Massachusetts governor's political core to conservatives and the wealthy, and said that for all the publicity surrounding Ryan, he hasn't had much to show for it in terms of enacted policy.

"He seems like a nice enough guy with a mean-spirited budget," Rybak said.

-- By Andy Szal

Friday, August 24, 2012

 11:31 AM 

Groups question in court filing if GOP attorneys intentionally withheld documents in redistricting suit

The two groups that sued over the redistricting maps Republicans drew in 2011 charge in a new court filing that GOP attorneys may have intentionally withheld documents that supported the plaintiffs’ claims the new lines violated the constitution.

The attorneys for a group of Dem voters and Voces de la Frontera asked the court to require a forensic examination of any computers used in relation to redistricting, appoint an independent party to do the review at no cost to the plaintiffs and then assess any appropriate sanctions once the process is complete.

Peter Earle, the attorney for Voces de la Frontera, said the forensic examination of the redistricting computers is needed to determine how many records were withheld and whether their omission was intentional.

“At this point all we know is material, extremely relevant documents, were not produced despite the certification to the court that everything relevant was produced,” Earle said.

Doug Poland, who represented the group of Dem voters, said depending on what was found in the forensic examination, there may be grounds to re-argue claims that were unsuccessful in trial on things such as the composition of African-American districts.

Both sides in the redistricting suit engaged in a protracted fight over what records relating to the process of redrawing the state's political maps should be turned over for trial. A panel of three federal judges eventually upheld most of the districts, but found lawmakers violated the Voting Rights Act by failing to create a majority-minority Assembly district for Milwaukee’s Latino community.

The existence of the emails that were not turned over came to light after Dems took control of the state Senate this summer and released legal documents from the attorneys that Republicans hired to help draw the maps and represent them in the ensuing suit.

The filing cites, for example, one email exchange over Latino citizenship numbers in a proposed district while the lines were still being finalized. In an email from attorney Jim Troupis, who GOP lawmakers hired as part of their legal team, the lawyer writes one of the team’s expert witnesses told him the Latino citizenship numbers were important in the proposed districts and “believes that no matter how you draw the district, there is not a Hispanic majority district when you consider [voter] turnout.”

Troupis advised the others on the email to not send the team’s expert requests on that topic because he “will be deposed and this may become public.”

Attorney Eric McLeod, who worked for Michael Best & Friedrich at the time as part of the GOP lawmakers’ legal team, responded the issue had been discussed at length and it had been decided to “move forward as we have intentionally” after soliciting input from the Hispanic community on two proposed Assembly districts. He downplayed the possibility of “any significant legal risk” with the proposed map and if a court found they were wrong, “the likely remedy would be to make that single change.”

Voces de la Frontera prevailed in its claim that the proposed Assembly districts 8 and 9 violated the Voting Rights Act. But Earle said the group had to drop a claim at trial about an equal protection violation because it did not have evidence to suggest there was an intent to discriminate against Latino voters. He argued the email exchange cited in the motion showed evidence of intent and could open the door to compensatory damages being awarded in the suit.

According to the motion, Michael Best & Friedrich responded to the plaintiff’s attorneys that it was not sure why the documents were not produced and would have to consult with McLeod, who is no longer with the firm. One GOP attorney expressed his belief that the email chains were “simply missed during the reviews.”

Troupis and an MBF attorney did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

-- By JR Ross

 9:23 AM 

Crossroads GPS goes after Baldwin on balanced budget amendment in TV ad

The conservative group Cross Roads GPS is up with its second TV ad knocking U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin, this time going after the Madison Dem for voting against a balanced budget amendment.

The spot opens with the narrator saying a balanced budget amendment in Washington would stop the mounting debt that “threatens Wisconsin’s economy.” The narrator goes on to say the debt has grown by $10 trillion since Baldwin went to Washington and that she said she supported a balanced budget, but voted against an amendment requiring one and voted to raise the debt limit five times.

“Tell Tammy to stop spending money we don’t have and support a balanced budget amendment,” the narrator says to close the spot.

-- By JR Ross

 9:21 AM 

Conservative seniors group hits Baldwin for "wasteful spending" on stimulus, health care

A new ad from conservative seniors group 60 Plus Association criticizes U.S. Senate candidate and Rep. Tammy Baldwin for what it labels as "wasteful spending" in Washington.

The 30-second TV ad features a number of seniors saying that Wisconsin has "been through a great deal in the last few years" and that Washington can learn from the path Wisconsin has taken in the last year and a half.

It then turns the focus toward Baldwin.

"Wisconsin needs to take a good look at Tammy Baldwin," one senior says, as others interject. "Look at her record. Tammy Baldwin voted for the trillion dollar stimulus, 700 billion in Medicare cuts, the health care law that could cost two trillion dollars. Those tax dollars came from my pocket and your pocket."

The ad ends with another senior telling voters to "tell Tammy Baldwin to follow Wisconsin's lead: Stop the wasteful spending."

 -- By Jason Smathers

Thursday, August 23, 2012

 7:40 PM 

Ryan to hold convention send-off rally Monday in Janesville

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan will hold a convention send-off rally Monday in his hometown of Janesville as he heads to Florida to officially claim the Republican Party's vice presidential nomination.

The rally will be held at Janesville Craig High School, according to a flier promoting the event.

The Republican National Convention runs next week in Tampa, Fla.

-- By Staff

 5:10 PM 

Michelle Obama touts health care reform in speech boosting the president

In a fiery half-hour speech in Milwaukee, First Lady Michelle Obama told a crowd of about 2,000 people packed into the gym at Bradley Tech High School to "help us finish what we started" as she detailed President Barack Obama's accomplishments since taking office.

Thanks to Obama, she said, millions of people are now working and able to pay their bills, and "millions of people in this country can finally see a doctor when they're sick."

"Because of his reforms, insurance companies now have to cover basic prevention," she said. "They can no longer discriminate against you because you have an illness they call a pre-existing condition. If you get breast cancer and you need really expensive treatment, your insurance company can no longer tell you, 'Sorry, you've reached your lifetime limit and we're not paying any more.'"

Obama drew loud applause when she said that thanks to the president, "Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat" and when she referred to the end of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, saying that "our troops no longer have to lie about who they are to serve our country."

The first lady was in Milwaukee to pay respects to victims of the Sikh temple shooting in Oak Creek, where a gunman killed 6 people on Aug. 5.

Before that, she appeared at the high school to rally supporters to join in a campaign called "It Takes One" -- with the message that every voter should try to ensure that at least one other person votes to re-elect Obama.

"This election will be even closer than the last one, that's a guarantee," she said. "It could come down to the last few thousand votes. That one new voter that you register -- understand the impact -- that one neighbor you help get to the polls, that could be the one that makes the difference. That one conversation you have, the one volunteer you recruit, that could be the one that puts this election over the top."

Obama used her personal experience and that of her husband to show their support for the "American dream" and "how we believe hard work should pay off."

She described how her father, a Chicago water works employee, was able to save money to help pay for her college tuition and that of her brother. "He was so proud of us," she said. "Every semester, he made sure we never missed registration deadline because his check was late."

The president, she said, observed how his mother, a single mother who put herself through school, gave her best every day and never blamed others.

"Barack Obama knows the American dream because he's lived it," she said. "When you work hard and you've done well -- and there's nothing wrong with doing well -- and you've walked through that door of opportunity, he believes you should not shut the door on others."

Obama met with the families of victims from the Sikh temple separate from the campaign event, and Wisconsin first lady Tonette Walker met with her prior to those visits.

"It was a pleasure to visit with her, and as always she was gracious and kind," Walker said in a statement released through the guv's office. "Her willingness to reach out to those in the Sikh community to help them heal will not only help those affected but also help eliminate the ignorance that led up to the horrific event in Oak Creek. I appreciate her presence in Wisconsin."

- By Kay Nolan

 3:03 PM 

Baldwin, Moore pump up crowd at Obama event

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin drew several minutes of thunderous applause after her remarks at Bradley Tech High in Milwaukee.

"Who do we want? Tammy Baldwin!" the crowd chanted after Baldwin said Dems will "do what it takes to make it right for the middle class."

"We will invest in education," she said. "We're going to provide tax cuts to small businesses" to create a "fair shot for all" and a "Made in Wisconsin" economy, said Baldwin.

Rep. Gwen Moore told the crowd that she is excited about the "It Takes One" campaign.

"You might have to work long hours or have various disabilities and think if you can't go door to door that you can't help the campaign," Moore said. "But you can go to each house next door, call your grandma's nursing home or tell your kids to spread the word at their high school."

Mayor Tom Barrett said, "Four years ago, everyone in this group helped make sure President Obama was elected president of the United States. Our challenge now is to make sure Wisconsin stays blue in October and in November."

 1:46 PM 

New Baldwin ad calls out Thompson on tax returns

A new U.S. Senate ad from Rep. Tammy Baldwin uses former Gov. Tommy Thompson's refusal to release his tax returns as proof that he's changed since leaving Wisconsin for Washington D.C.

The 30-second TV ad, titled "No," features footage of Thompson saying he won't release his tax returns.

"What's happened to Tommy Thompson," the narrator asks before footage of Thompson plays. "For years as governor, Tommy released his taxes. But now that he's made millions working at a D.C. lobbying firm..."

The ad then starts the  footage of Thompson saying "The answer is 'N-O.' What part of that don't you understand?"  The narrator then asks what Thompson is hiding in the returns.

The ad ends with the line, "Tommy Thompson: He's not for you anymore."

-- By Jason Smathers

 12:57 PM 

Crowd gathers before Michelle Obama's Milwaukee visit

Thousands of people have arrived hours early at Bradley Tech High School on Milwaukee's near south side in hopes of seeing First Lady Michelle Obama, who is scheduled to speak at the school at 2 p.m.

The first lady is scheduled to hold a private meeting with members of the Sikh community afterward.

Lines are stretching for blocks in front of the school, and it's a diverse crowd of young and old, black and white. Volunteers say all the free tickets to the event were quickly snapped up. Between 2,500 and 2,800 free tickets were given away, reflecting the capacity of the gym, according to campaign spokeswoman Gillian Morris.

State Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, told WisPolitics before the event started that Mrs. Obama's presence is particularly electrifying for women.

"I'm seeing women who have got to be twice my age here," Taylor said. "First Lady Obama has been a key person on the discussion of all things that matter to women, whether it's women's health, our children and families, eating healthy, going back to gardening and farming. I'm excited because she has been to my district and supports my only farmer, Mr. Will Allen."

Taylor compared Obama to Eleanor Roosevelt "because she's not afraid to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty" and she "reminds us of our commonality."

Mayor Tom Barrett told WisPolitics beforehand that he hopes Mrs. Obama focuses on the middle class and how we need a president who will support the middle class.

-- By Kay Nolan
For WisPolitics.com

 11:07 AM 

New Duffy ad features lumberjack games

A new advertisement from U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy features the Northwoods representative demonstrating his "pole climb" skills to make a point about his determination for reform in Congress.

The 30-second television ad, titled "Climb", starts with Duffy saying he competed in lumberjack games while he begins a practice run on what he says was his best event: the pole climb.

"I learned some lessons our country could use to climb back," Duffy says as he looks begins to climb the pole. "We need firm footing by reforming our tax code. We have to be strong, working to create jobs by reducing red tape. And we need to keep our eye on the target: a secure future by balancing the budget."

The ad ends with Duffy having made his way to the top of the pole. He then notes his approval of his message "to take America back to the top."

-- By Jason Smathers

 7:31 AM 

Quinnipiac/CBS/New York Times poll finds 'micro-bump' for Romney in Wisconsin, Florida, but not Ohio

The latest Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times Swing State Poll found what pollsters call a “micro-bump” for Mitt Romney in Wisconsin and Florida with the selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate, but not Ohio.

The president continued to have the edge in all three states. In Wisconsin, he was backed by 49 percent of respondents, compared to 47 percent who supported Romney. Two weeks ago, prior to Ryan’s selection for the presidential ticket, Obama led in Wisconsin 51-45.

In the U.S. Senate race, the poll found Tommy Thompson leading Tammy Baldwin 50-44, including 54-39 among independents. The survey also found Thompson, the former guv, starts out the race with a name ID edge on Baldwin, the U.S. rep.

The poll also found Obama had a 51-45 favorability rating among likely voters compared to 44-43 for Romney. Ryan’s split was 44-35, while Joe Biden’s was 35-42.

The survey was conducted Aug. 15-21 of 1,190 likely voters using live interviews of those with land lines and cell phones. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.

-- By JR Ross

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

 1:31 PM 

Marquette Law poll: Obama, Thompson lead in Wisconsin

The latest Marquette University Law School poll has President Obama narrowly up on Mitt Romney, while Tommy Thompson leads Tammy Baldwin in the U.S. Senate race.

The survey found 49 percent of respondents backed the Obama-Joe Biden ticket compared to 46 percent that supported the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan team.

In the Marquette poll conducted two weeks earlier and before Ryan was picked for the GOP VP slot, Obama led 50-45.

In the U.S. Senate race, Thompson led Baldwin 50-41 compared to 48-43 two weeks earlier.

The poll of 576 likely voters on the November elections was conducted Aug. 16-19 after Thompson's GOP primary win and Ryan's selection for the Republican ticket. It included both landline and cell phone users and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

Other results were based on a sample that included 706 registered voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

Thirty-one percent of respondents said they rated Romney's selection of Ryan as a running mate as excellent, 27 percent said pretty good, 16 percent only fair and 19 percent poor.

Also, 29 percent of respondents said they were more likely to vote for Romney with Ryan on the ticket while 16 percent said it was less likely and 53 percent said it would not have much effect.

 -- By JR Ross

 12:21 PM 

PPP Poll: Thompson tops Baldwin by five percentage points

A new U.S. Senate poll released today shows former Gov. Tommy Thompson on top of Rep. Tammy Baldwin.

The Public Policy Polling survey, which surveyed 1,308 likely Wisconsin voters from August 16-19, shows Thompson is leading Baldwin 49 percent to 44 percent. That's within the margin of error of +/-2.7 percentage points.

Thompson has not only rallied support among GOP voters -- He now is supported by 93 percent of GOP voters -- but he has a slight lead on Baldwin with independents, 45-42 percent.

The poll also shows that Gov. Scott Walker has maintained the same 51 percent approval rating he had in July, post-recall.

 -- By Jason Smathers

 11:03 AM 

Ryan to speak Wednesday night at national convention

The RNC announced today that Paul Ryan will address the national convention Wednesday night, the traditional speaking slot for a VP nominee.

The Janesville Republican will be the last speaker of the night. Those speaking before him include two others that were considered for the vice presidential slot on the GOP ticket -- U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

The Wednesday lineup also includes Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, while former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice will be the final speaker before Ryan takes the stage.

-- By JR Ross

 10:43 AM 

Walker to join other GOP govs. in RNC speaking lineup; Baldwin to address DNC

Gov. Scott Walker will address the Republican National Convention on Tuesday as part of a lineup that includes several fellow GOP governors.

Those preceding Walker Tuesday night in Tampa include former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and several others. Those following Walker include Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Delaware lt. gov. candidate Sher Valenzuela, New Mexico Gov. Susan Martinez and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who will give the keynote speech that night to wrap up the day’s events on the convention floor.

The RNC announced Tuesday afternoon that Walker was being added to that day's lineup, which had been released earlier in the day.

Meanwhile, Dem U.S. Senate nominee Tammy Baldwin was added Wednesday to the speaking line-up for the following week's Democratic National Convention.

Other Dem convention speakers announced this morning included Caroline Kennedy, Illinois congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth, U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards

-- By Staff

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

 3:14 PM 

Walker says Akin should leave race

Gov. Scott Walker today joined a flurry of calls for U.S. Rep. Todd Akin to step aside in the Missouri Senate race following controversial comments over the weekend.

"Representative Todd Akin's comments were ignorant at best and completely outrageous," Walker said in a statement. "For the good of his state and for the good of his party, he should step aside immediately and allow someone else to run."

-- By Staff

 1:18 PM 

Thompson calls for Akin to leave Missouri Senate race

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson said through a campaign statement Tuesday that U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-MO, should withdraw from the U.S. Senate race against the state's current U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

"Congressman Akin should have come to the conclusion by now that his comments were inexcusable and an insult to rape victims," Thompson said in a statement. "Simply apologizing is not enough. He should step aside and resign the nomination for U.S. Senate immediately."

Thompson condemned Akin's comments Monday, but did not immediately ask him to step aside.

  -- By Staff

 11:10 AM 

PPP Poll: Romney, Obama in a dead heat in Wisconsin

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is virtually tied with President Barack Obama in Wisconsin according to a new poll, with Paul Ryan's addition to the ticket giving Romney a boost among Republican voters.

A Public Policy Polling survey of 1,308 likely Wisconsin voters via automated polling shows Romney edging out Obama with 48 percent of the vote to 47 percent, which is within the margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points. That's a seven-point swing for Romney from the last PPP survey in Wisconsin in July.

The poll credited most of the boost to the addition of Ryan, R-Janesville, to the ticket, noting that Romney's lead among Republican voters jumped from 78 points (87-9) to 88 point (93-5). Obama still has a lead among the state's independents, but it has shrunk from 14 points to four.

 -- By Jason Smathers

 9:49 AM 

Van Hollen to ask Supreme Court to take up voter ID cases

AG J.B. Van Hollen this morning announced he will ask the Supreme Court to take up his appeal of two decisions that found the state’s voter ID law unconstitutional in hopes it will be reinstated before the November elections.

In April, the Supreme Court without comment refused a request from the two appeals courts handling the cases to take them directly.

Van Hollen said he will now file a petition to bypass the court of appeals and a motion for consolidation with the Supreme Court. He will also ask the court to immediately stay the Dane County Circuit Court injunctions that have barred enforcement of the law.

“People in this state are very frustrated that a common sense law enacted by the Legislature and signed by the governor has been blocked,” Van Hollen said. “While I respect the judicial process and the right to challenge a law in court, it is time for our Supreme Court to take control of these cases.”

-- By JR Ross

Monday, August 20, 2012

 11:50 AM 

Johnson tweets Akin should step aside over 'legitimate rape' remark

U.S Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, today called on GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri to "step aside" after the congressman said victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant.

"Todd Akin’s statements are reprehensible and inexcusable," Johnson tweeted today. "He should step aside today for the good of the nation."

In a TV interview posted over the weekend, Akin was questioned about allowing abortions in the case of rape and said, "If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." He later said he "misspoke," but reiterated his opposition to abortions in the case of rape.

The race pitting Akin, a six-term congressman, against Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill is one of the key pickup opportunities for Republicans in their effort to retake control of the U.S. Senate. There has been growing national speculation about whether Akin can recover from the remark and if he should drop out of the race. Under Missouri law, Akin has until tomorrow -- the 11th Tuesday before the general election -- to withdraw.

UPDATE: Johnson has now released a full statement on Akins' comments:

"Todd Akin's statements are reprehensible and inexcusable. Gaining a Republican majority in the US Senate and fixing the huge challenges that face our nation is more important than any one individual's political ambitions. Todd Akin should do the right thing for the nation and step aside today, so Missouri Republicans can put forth a candidate that can win in November."

Johnson endorsed John Brunner in the three-way GOP primary that Akin won for the Senate nomination.

-- By JR Ross

Friday, August 17, 2012

 3:00 PM 

Baldwin ad says Thompson's 'not for you anymore'

Dem Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin today unveiled a TV ad criticizing GOP nominee Tommy Thompson over his position on taxes.

The spot begins with an announcer saying Baldwin supports cutting taxes for small businesses and the middle class, and highlights her support for the so-called "Buffet Rule" to increase taxes on high-income earners.

The ad then calls Thompson "the guy who's gotten rich working for D.C. lobbyists," and says he supports a $265,000 tax cut "to millionaires like himself."

"Tommy Thompson -- he's not for you anymore," the ad ends.

A spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee responded in a statement, "The notion that liberal Tammy Baldwin is some kind of tax cutter is laughable and, frankly, borders on the ridiculous."

-- By Andy Szal

 12:00 PM 

CWA ad lauds Baldwin over call center legislation

The Communications Workers of America has included U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin among its first four incumbent lawmakers to be lauded in a radio ad campaign for supporting a "Call Center Bill."

The new CWA ads thank the Madison congresswoman -- and the state's U.S. Senate nominee -- along with fellow Dem U.S. Reps. Tim Bishop of New York, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Betty Sutton of Ohio, for supporting a bill that would "protect American jobs and consumers."

An announcer in the 60-second ad says the bill would "force overseas call center employees to tell us where they are located, and immediately switch us to an American call center when we demand it."

"Call Congresswoman Baldwin and thank her for standing up for American workers and protecting our privacy," the spot ends.

The $100,000 campaign is the first wave of an effort the group says will eventually target 50 races this fall.

-- By Andy Szal

 10:40 AM 

EMILY's list ad paints Thompson as a DC insider

A new ad from Women Vote!, a branch of abortion rights PAC EMILY's list, targets former Gov. Tommy Thompson in the U.S. Senate race for his lobbying connections.

The 30-second TV ad, titled "Riding High," begins by using footage of his own TV ad that shows him riding his Harley-Davidson. The narrator then says that since he left Wisconsin, he's been "riding high" as a lobbyist in Washington D.C.

He was paid over 10 mil as a DC insider, peddling his influence for the special interests," the narrator says. "Now those insiders want him in the Senate, where Tommy says he'd cut corporate taxes and our Medicare."

The narrator ends the ad by saying Thompson went to Washington and "left Wisconsin in the dust."

-- By Jason Smathers

 10:23 AM 

Rasmussen poll: Thompson 54, Baldwin 43

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson leads U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin in a new Rasmussen Reports poll of the state's new matchup for its U.S. Senate seat.

The poll, conducted the day after the primary, showed 54 percent of respondents favoring Thompson to 43 percent for Baldwin, D-Madison. The telephone survey polled 500 likely Wisconsin voters and had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percentage points.

Democrats generally dismiss Rasmussen polling as biased toward Republicans.

-- By Staff

Thursday, August 16, 2012

 4:00 PM 

CNN poll: Obama has narrow lead, Wisconsin now a toss up

A new CNN poll released today found the president with a lead over Mitt Romney among Wisconsin adults and registered voters.

CNN noted the lead is within the margin of error and moved Wisconsin into its toss up category.

The survey found 50 percent of Wisconsin adults favored Obama, compared to 44 percent who supported Romney. Among registered voters, 49 percent backed the president, while 45 percent supported Romney.

Among all adults, 54 percent said Romney's pick of Paul Ryan to run for vice president with him was an excellent or pretty good choice, while 41 percent said it was only fair or poor. Fifty-six percent said Ryan was qualified to be president if it became necessary, while 35 percent said he was not.

The survey of 1,005 adults was conducted by ORC International using live phone interviews Monday and Tuesday. The margin of error for the total sample was plus or minus 3 percentage points. The pool also included 920 interviews with registered voters and had a similar margin of error. The sample included 750 respondents with landlines and 255 with cell phones.

-- By JR Ross

 10:03 AM 

Rasmussen: Romney 48, Obama 47

The latest poll from Rasmussen Reports has Mitt Romney just edging Barack Obama in Wisconsin.

The survey found 48 percent of respondents backed Romney, compared to 47 who supported the president. Three percent preferred another candidate, while 2 percent were undecided.

The difference was within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

In July, Rasmussen had the race Obama 49, Romney 46.

Fifty-seven percent of Wisconsin voters surveyed said they had a positive view of Ryan, while 36 percent view him unfavorably. Forty-six percent said they were more likely to vote for Romney with Ryan on the ticket, while 31 percent said they were less likely.

Voters surveyed were also split on Ryan's readiness to be president with 45 percent saying he is and 42 percent disagreeing.

The automated phone survey of 500 likely voters was conducted Wednesday.

-- By JR Ross

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

 4:53 PM 

The WisPolitics.com post-primary Stock Report


Aug. 15, 2012


Tommy Thompson: The former guv survives a bruising GOP Senate primary, and quickly gets labeled by some as the early favorite in November given his history of winning statewide and national Republicans' focus on Wisconsin. Insiders chalk up Thompson's win to a number of factors, including kind words in the closing days from Gov. Scott Walker and veep candidate Paul Ryan plus a four-way race with three candidates splitting the anti-Tommy vote. Thompson hit a ceiling of about 35 percent in most polls taken throughout the course of the campaign and finished with 34 percent of the vote on Tuesday. That's not exactly a resounding win. But with Eric Hovde, Mark Neumann and Jeff Fitzgerald also vying for the nomination, it was just enough to seal the deal. Insiders say it was also key that Fitzgerald pulled votes from Hovde and Neumann, adding it's likely one reason the former guv was so kind to the speaker in his comments throughout the campaign. Insiders expected Thompson to do well outstate, far away from the more conservative wing of the GOP that's been emboldened by talk radio over the years. But they also say he more than held his own in the Milwaukee area -- a big boost that helped compensate for a poor showing in the Green Bay area. Looking to November, some Republicans believe Tammy Baldwin is too liberal to win statewide and Thompson will win in a romp. But others aren't so sure, cautioning it will be a difficult race, particularly since Ryan's placement on the national GOP ticket gives the Obama campaign extra motivation to win Wisconsin. The president's turnout operation, if ramped to the max, would be a boost for Baldwin, some say. A rush of TV ads come in immediately after the primary with conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity and Crossroads GPS hitting Baldwin on the airwaves right away. Meanwhile, Senate Dems add $2.3 million to their buy in Wisconsin, pushing their time reserved between Sept. 11 and Election Day to $5.2 million.

Mark Pocan: The Madison lawmaker gets a most noteworthy 48th birthday gift when he gains the Dem nomination for the 2nd CD with a landslide victory, all but guaranteeing he’ll be a freshman when Congress reconvenes in January. Pocan will face Republican Chad Lee on the November ballot, but that race will be mostly a formality in the heavily Dem district dominated by the Madison media market. Pocan is now following in the footsteps of Tammy Baldwin, making the transition from a Madison-based Assembly seat to the House, and he’ll likely be able to hold the seat for as long as he wants considering the district’s makeup, election-watchers say. Dem rival Kelda Roys did her best to tear down Pocan, trying to link him to Scott Walker and the Koch brothers. But those attacks didn’t stick, and insiders say they backfired on her. Pocan rolls to 72 percent of the vote, while Roys pulls in a paltry 22 percent. Roys burned bridges in the attacks she lobbed against Pocan and irritated many in her own caucus who felt she was throwing them under the bus as well for attacking him over bills they also supported, insiders say. But some say time heals all wounds and Roys, who turned 33 this summer, will have ample time to rehabilitate her image and resurrect her political career.

Legislative progressives: The Dem Party's liberal wing pulls off a series of wins in contested primaries, particularly in Milwaukee, that signify the arrival of freshman Dem Sen. Chris Larson as a political force. Larson and progressives got behind a series of candidates who were better organized and outworked the competition, insiders say. That may be no more apparent than in the 6th SD, where Nikiya Harris pulled off what many consider the shocker of the night. Not only did she beat state Rep. Elizabeth Coggs -- whose family name has been golden in Milwaukee politics for years -- but she also did it convincingly, winning almost half of the vote in a five-way primary. Progressive favorite Dan Riemer knocked off moderate Rep. Peggy Krusick, while Mandela Barnes beat pro-school choice Rep. Jason Fields. In both cases, the wins were by convincing margins. Elsewhere, Rep. Sandy Pasch emerged victorious in the 10th AD, where she moved after being redrawn into a heavily GOP seat, while La Tonya Johnson won the 17th and Evan Goyke took the 18th. Still, those wins come at a cost to the African-American delegation, which slips from six members in the Assembly this session to an expected three come January. The wins by Pasch and Goyke in particular inflame racial tensions with white candidates running for districts with significant black populations. That's particularly true of Pasch, who moved into the district to run. But others counter it's not their racial background, but their stances on core Dem issues that make them the best fit for the district. The wins hearten progressives who see it as a victory for the party's core principles and their organizational efforts, while others lament what they see as a shift to the left that leaves no room for moderates. While insiders see Larson as a winner with the candidates he backed, Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, is seen by some as taking a hit for seeing her preferred candidates come up short.


Incumbents: For the most part, incumbents made it through Tuesday’s primaries unscathed. But longtime Milwaukee Dems Jason Fields and Peggy Krusick lose -- in both cases decisively -- to more progressive challengers. On the GOP side, some incumbents, particularly freshman Mike Endsley of Sheboygan, were considered vulnerable going into Tuesday’s election, but come out with solid wins. Republicans like Dean Kaufert of Neenah and Travis Tranel of Cuba City were targeted for their votes against the guv’s collective bargaining changes. But Gov. Scott Walker endorses them anyway. Republicans particularly kept a close eye on Endsley. After taking a Dem-leaning seat two years ago, he took a series of tough votes and stood with the GOP agenda. His reward was a much more Republican seat to run in, but he also drew a primary from Devin LeMahieu, the son of state Rep. Dan LeMahieu. The younger LeMahieu didn’t raise much money -- though his dad gave him $500 -- but Republicans fretted the name and the new territory that Endsley picked up -- right from LeMahieu’s back yard -- might work against the incumbent. But he ends up winning with 60 percent of the vote, and some insiders wonder whether Robin Vos, the speaker-in-waiting, will punish the elder LeMahieu in some way for being part of the caucus spending thousands of dollars on an incumbent in a race where it never should have had to lift a finger. That includes some wondering whether LeMahieu’s JFC seat could be in danger.

Eric Hovde: The businessman finishes a close second to Tommy Thompson in the U.S. Senate race and bows out gracefully, getting kudos from some conservatives in the process after a hard fought -- and often negative -- campaign. While some give Hovde credit for finishing respectably in his first campaign, others point out it came at a price as he sank more than $5 million of his own money into the losing effort. Hovde says in his concession speech that his political career is over. Some say that's understandable. After he spent big to drive up his name ID and started showing momentum in polls, opponents began to tear him down, painting him as somebody out to tap into government money while trying to avoid paying taxes. But some Republicans don't rule out that Hovde could still play some kind of role in Wisconsin politics and may even make another bid at the ballot box down the road.


Joe Wineke: When the former state Dem Party chair and lawmaker from Verona started making rumblings about trying to return to the Assembly by running for the redrawn 80th AD, some insiders got the vibe he felt the district belonged to him. But his loss to Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts Tuesday shows it’s not the Verona of old. With Epic moving in, the population has exploded and gotten more liberal and progressive, some say. That was right in Pope-Roberts' wheelhouse, even as Wineke played up the endorsements of liberal favorites like former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold. It helped that the Assembly Dem caucus went all in to help Pope-Roberts, who decided to run for the redrawn district rather than stay in the one where her home ended up in the new maps. The slams included portraying Wineke as someone simply looking to return to power with ties to the likes of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, an organization progressives loathe. Wineke tried reviving his political career first with a bid for Dane County exec last year. But that loss combined with Tuesday’s defeat likely means the end of that hope, some say.

Kurt Schuller: You don’t see many statewide office holders decide to run for an Assembly seat. You also aren’t going to find many that finish a distant third in a three-way primary. But critics say Schuller, swept into the treasurer’s office two years ago in the GOP wave, ran a poor campaign and raised little money. So they're not surprised he gets crushed in the primary for the heavily Republican 53rd AD. Michael Schraa, who owns and operates Leon's Custard in Oshkosh, won with 61 percent of the vote, Frank Frassetto, the town chairman of Black Hawk, came in second with 27 percent and Schuller was third with 12 percent. Republicans say Schuller mistakenly thought his name ID was much higher than it actually was, adding their belief that Schraa and Frassetto simply outworked him. Schuller ran for treasurer on a platform of seeking to eliminate the office through a constitutional amendment. That didn’t go far this legislative session, but the guv did cut the office budget and pull away some responsibilities, drawing complaints from Schuller. The upside for him is he still has two years left on his treasurer’s term.

American Federation for Children: The pro-school choice group makes a play in several Dem primaries in the Milwaukee area only to see all of its candidates fail. Records filed with the GAB show the group made independent expenditures to help state Rep. Jason Fields, one of only two incumbents to lose Tuesday, as well as state Rep. Elizabeth Coggs, who ran for an open Senate seat and surprisingly lost in the primary, plus three other Assembly candidates. Critics say the group’s efforts backfired, particularly after some Dems gathered to denounce what they saw as a pro-Republican group meddling in Dem primaries, calling on AFC to butt out and its preferred candidates to disavow the support. Others, though, say it wasn’t AFC’s efforts that led to the losses, but several poor candidates who were outworked and out-organized, especially with the teacher’s union and other progressive groups fired up to take out pro-voucher candidates. However it happened, the group has now seen a serious erosion of support within the Milwaukee Dem caucus for the voucher program. Since its inception, there had been a sometimes odd coalition between inner-city Milwaukee Dems and suburban conservative Republicans pushing the program. But now there are only a handful of Dems who have been open to supporting the voucher program from time to time. Still, with the Assembly still firmly in GOP hands, the losses likely won’t be much of a roadblock in that chamber at least for future school choice legislation, program supporters say.

Mark Neumann: The homebuilder and former congressman falls short in his third bid for statewide office. Neumann alienated many in the GOP’s grassroots two years ago when he challenged Scott Walker for the Republican guv nomination, and some of those feelings lingered into this summer. Neumann even ran a radio ad saying he wouldn’t have run against Walker two years ago if he knew what a good job he was going to do, but many saw the mea culpa as odd and unlikely to make GOP voters forget those attacks. Neumann continues to have a dedicated following among some in the Republican base, but it has so far proven unable to carry him to a win in back-to-back state primaries. This time, Neumann even had the help of conservative groups such as the national Club for Growth, the Senate Conservatives Fund and Tea Party Express. The praise those outside organizations heaped on Neumann only irritated Wisconsin-based conservatives who felt those groups were sticking their nose where it didn’t belong and didn’t comprehend the dynamic Neumann faced on the home front. To some, the latest loss should end Neumann’s quest to get back into public office. But some doubt he’ll go away quietly, saying he hasn’t ruled out future runs. Republicans will particularly keep an eye on the 1st CD in case Paul Ryan wins the vice presidency in November. Neumann’s Nashotah home was drawn into the 5th CD, but Ryan ascending to the vice presidency would leave open the seat Neumann represented in Congress for two terms in the 1990s.

 2:55 PM 

Report: DSCC increases Wisconsin ad buy

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will now spend over $5 million on ads in Wisconsin's U.S. Senate race after adding $2.3 million to its buy here, Politico reported today.

The reserved ad space would run from Sept. 11 through the day before the election in November; the total cost is now $5.2 million.

The report says a group associated with EMILY's List has also bought time in Wisconsin.

-- By Staff

 9:43 AM 

RNC releases two ads to run in Wisconsin knocking Obama

The RNC today released two TV ads it said will run in Wisconsin knocking the president for raising taxes, breaking his promises and failing to get more people back to work.

One of the spots opens with a crowd chanting Obama's name during the 2008 race as the narrators asks viewers what if the crowd had been chanting their name and "had given you the power?"

The narrator then asks if they would have spent trillions overhauling health care while millions were without work, tried creating jobs by creating debt, and raised taxes and broken your promises.

"Now you do have the power ... to make a change," the narrator says to close the spot.

The second spot opens with the president saying, "We tried their plan. We tried our plan, and it worked."

The announcer then says there are over 23 million people unemployed, underemployed or "have given up hope" with unemployment at 8 percent for 40 straight months and a 45 percent increase in the number of people who need food stamps.

"If President Obama's plan worked, how come so many Americans aren't working?" the narrator asks to close the spot.

-- By JR Ross

 9:28 AM 

Crossroads GPS targets Baldwin in new TV ad

The conservative group Crossroads GPS is up with a new TV ad in Wisconsin that says big spending in Washington "is terrible for Wisconsin's economy and Tammy Baldwin hasn't helped."

The narrator says Baldwin voted for the "failed" $1 trillion stimulus package, which included projects like $800,000 to replace light bulbs, and the national debt has increased more than $10 trillion since she went to Congress.

"Tell Tammy trillions wasted is too much. Stop the wasteful spending and cut the debt," the narrator says before encouraging viewers to support the "New Majority Agenda."

The group said it has a $250,000 buy in Wisconsin that will run for one week on broadcast and cable TV starting today.

-- By JR Ross

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

 11:42 PM 

Baldwin: Thompson will 'stand with those who already have too much power'

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin's campaign wasted little time before criticizing former Gov. Tommy Thompson after he won the GOP primary to face the Madison Democrat in November.

"Make no mistake, Tommy Thompson will stand with those who already have too much power and influence in Washington," Baldwin, who was unopposed for the Dem Senate nomination, said in a statement. "I will fight to do what's right for the middle class and Thompson will put those at the very top and the big monied special interests in Washington ahead of Wisconsin's hard working families."

Baldwin accused Thompson of supporting "policies from the past that crashed our economy" and slashing "the very investments we need to move our economy forward."

"Unlike Tommy Thompson, I will fight for Wisconsin's middle class by working across party lines to move our economic recovery forward," Baldwin said.

-- By Staff

 11:41 PM 

State Treasurer Schuller finishes third in GOP Assembly primary

Treasurer Kurt Schuller, swept into statewide office two years ago as part of the GOP wave, finished a distant third Tuesday in his bid for the Republican nominatin for an Assembly seat.

Michael Schraa, who owns and operates Leon's Custard in Oshkosh, won with 4,403 votes, while Frank Frassetto, the town chairman of Black Hawk, came in second with 1,962 votes.

Schuller, who does not live in the district, finished with 850 votes, according to unofficial returns.

-- By JR Ross

 11:35 PM 

Results in other key Assembly primaries

Here are some numbers in other key Senate and Assembly primaries:

In the 12th SD, Dem Susan Sommer beat Lisa Theo in a bit of an upset with 3,043 votes to 1,776 with 166 of 180 precincts reporting.

In the 24th SD, Republican Scott Noble led with 6,159 votes to 5,449 for Steve Abrahamson with 108 of 118 precincts reporting.

In the 30th SD, Republican John Macco beat Ray Suennen with 8,810 votes to 4,368 with all 68 precincts in.

In the 13th AD, Republican Rob Hutton won with 5,331 votes to 2,961 for nearest competitor Thomas Schellinger with all 32 precincts in.

In the 17th AD, Dem La Tonya Johnson won with 1,895 votes to 1,019 for nearest competitor Fred Royal with all 34 precincts in. 

In the 18th AD, Dem Evan Goyke won with 1,507 votes to 770 for nearest competitor Jarrett Fields with all 33 precincts in.

In the 25th AD, Dem Jim Brey won with 901 votes to 705 for nearest competitor Bernie Starzewski with all 30 precincts in.

On the GOP side in the 25th, Paul Tittl won with 3,587 votes to 1,360 for nearest competitor Mike Howe with all 30 precincts in.

In the 34th AD, Republican Robert Swearingen won with 3,670 votes to 1,332 for Alex Young with 40 of 53 precincts in.

In the 37th AD, Republican John Jagler won with 3,412 votes to 1,227 for nearest competitor Steve Kauffeld with all 27 precincts in.

In the 39th AD, Republican Mark Born won with 4,023 votes to 2,381 for nearest competitor Don Lechner with all 40 precincts in.

In the 44th AD, Dem Debra Kolste won with 1,923 votes to 1,610 for nearest competitor Kevin Murray with all 24 precincts in.

In the 47th AD, Dem Robb Kahl won with 3,033 votes to 1,456 for Amanda Hall with 16 of 17 precincts in.

In the 51st AD, Dem Maureen May-Grimm won with 1,835 votes to 1,164 for Pam Bomhack with all 62 precincts in.

In the 65th AD, Dem Tod Ohnstad won with 1,960 votes to 503 for nearest competitor Dayvin Hallmon with all 45 precincts in.

In the 70th AD, Republican Nancy Vandermeer won with 2,968 votes to 2,024 for Dan Wald with 48 of 53 precincts in.

In the 79th AD, Dem Dianne Hesselbein won with 3,586 votes to 1,885 for Ellen Lindgren with 15 of 20 precincts in.

In the 85th AD, Dem Mandy Wright won with 1,624 votes to 1,047 for Jeff Johnson with all 42 precincts in.

In the 86th AD, Republican John Spiros won with 3,985 votes to 1,430 for Wayne Thorson with all 35 precincts in.

-- By JR Ross

 11:17 PM 

Thompson: 'Wisconsin is on a roll'

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson told a full crowd that the state GOP is "on a roll" and that the work of taking back the state begins tomorrow.

Thompson said that after his victory he received a call from VP candidate and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan and Gov. Scott Walker. Walker pledged his support to push the candidate forward in the general election.

"He said, 'Tomorrow we start organizing so on Nov. 6 we carry the state of Wisconsin,'" Thomspon told an exuberant crowd.

Thompson thanked his family, including eight grandchildren, for their support in the race and his wife Sue Ann for giving political speeches throughout the state on his behalf. He pointed out his grandchildren by name and said he decided to run for Senate because of the need to preserve their future.

"We have always, in America, ladies and gentlemen, promised our children and our grandchildren that were going to give them a country that is stronger, freer, fairer, safer, with more options than we had," Thompson said. "We've always promised that. And for the first time, ladies and gentlemen, for the first time, I don't think we can fulfill that promise unless we take it back."

He also praised his competitors Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, who he called a "class act," former Congressman Mark Neumann, who he said "loves this country just like you and me," and nearest competitor Eric Hovde.

"He said, 'Go get em' Tommy,'" Thompson said of his call with Hovde tonight.

Thompson also made a point of thanking his supporters in the Sikh community, saying that the state needs to pray together in the wake of the tragic Oak Creek shooting.

Thompson also encouraged supporters to work harder to defeat Democratic competitor Tammy Baldwin and support the ticket of Ryan and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in November.

"We're going to send Barack Obama, we're going to send him back to Chicago," Thompson said to cheers, as one person added "Or Indonesia!"

"And let him become a community organizer again, a job he may be able to handle."

-- By Jason Smathers

 11:13 PM 

Besides Fields, Krusick, Assembly incumbents survive

While Milwaukee Dems Jason Fields and Peggy Krusick have fallen in their primaries, other leggie incumbents appear poised to survive.

That includes:

Republican Luther Olsen in the 14th SD, with 14,484 votes to 4,260 for David Eiler with 147 of 148 precincts in.

Republican Al Ott in the 3rd AD, who had 3,930 votes to 1,379 for Brandi Lefeber with 19 of 23 precincts in.

Dem JoCasta Zamarripa in the 8th AD, who had 527 votes to 248 for Laura Manriquez with all 27 precincts in.

Dem Josh Zepnick in the 9th AD, who had 593 votes to 248 for Jose Guzman.

Dem Sandy Pasch in the 10th AD, who had 3,531 votes to 1,751 for her nearest competitor Millie Coby with all 30 precincts in.

Dem Fred Kessler in the 12th AD with 1,633 votes to 677 for Mario Hall with all 26 precincts in.

Republican Don Pridemore in the 22nd AD with 6,878 votes to 1,421 for Nick Oliver with 25 of 30 precincts in.

Republican Mike Endsley in the 25th AD with 3,798 votes to 2,229 for Devin LeMahieu with 19 of 28 precincts in.

Dem Janis Ringhand in the 45th AD with 1,819 votes to 1,449 for Sheila DeForest with all 36 precincts in.

Republican Travis Tranel in the 49th AD with 3,033 votes to 1,456 for Dave Kuhle with 16 of 17 precincts in.

Republican Dean Kaufert in the 55th AD AD with 4,230 votes to 2,312 for Jay Schroeder with 16 of 17 precincts in.

Dem Brett Hulsey in the 78th AD with 5,195 votes to 496 for Christopher Fisher with 25 of 26 precincts in.

Dem Sondy Pope-Roberts in the 80th AD with 2,813 votes to 2,458 for Joe Wineke with 38 of 40 precincts in.

 -- By JR Ross

 10:51 PM 

Hovde throws support behind Thompson in concession speech

In his concession speech, Hovde threw his support behind Tommy Thompson and told the crowd they cannot let Democrat Tammy Baldwin get elected.

“Sadly it didn't work out the way we had planned it to,” Hovde said. "I'm just like all of you. I'm a guy who got tired of yelling at his television set, who wanted to take our country back."

He said he congratulated Thompson in a phone call after what he described as a tough race.

“He will have my support,” Hovde said, “because folks, we cannot let Tammy Baldwin win.”
Hovde said this will mark the end of his political career.

“This is the end of my political career,” Hovde said to shouts of "no" and boos. “I will continue to be a voice out there very loud and very strong and do whatever I can for our country.”

Despite losing, he said he felt he at least woke people up to the problems facing the country.

"I feel that at least one thing I accomplished in these past six months, is that I woke people up throughout this state," Hovde said.

During his speech he called for a change in the political system and for America to get back to the roots that made it a great nation.

“We have to restore America, our home,” Hovde said. “If we continue on this path we are on, we will lose all of the things we care about.”

Hovde thanked his family, supporters, staffers and volunteers, and encouraged people to remain involved.

“As I said to Governor Thompson, please go fight on behalf of the America people,” Hovde said.

-- By David Wise

 10:40 PM 

Neumann endorses Thompson in concession speech

Mark Neumann threw his support behind Tommy Thompson in his concession speech, urging his supporters "to do everything in their God-given power" to ensure that Thompson defeats Dem candidate Tammy Baldwin.

Neumann said he just spoke to Thompson and that Thompson told him, "It's too bad we both couldn't win."

Neuman said he had believed he could win, but said, "God had a different plan."

Neumann urged his supporters to join him in ensuring that Mitt Romney becomes the next president and that Paul Ryan becomes the next vice president.

"We need to right this great nation," Neumann said. "My dream is that we've turned the corner in this election year 2012, and that a generation from now, the opportunity to live the American dream is alive and well in this, the greatest nation in the world, the United States of America."

Neumann said he hasn't decided whether he will run for office in the future, saying it's up to God's plan.

"In the meantime, I'll go back to business and I'll keep creating jobs for people in Wisconsin like we've been doing," said Neumann, who lives in Nashotah in Waukesha County and owns a home building firm. "I enjoy business and I'm looking forward to getting back to it."

He also denied that past negativity toward Scott Walker hurt his showing in the Senate primary.

"Scott and I are friends," said Neumann. "I look forward to working with him as we win this state for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in the fall. We'll be working shoulder to shoulder as we did during his recall and as we did after the primary in the last election."

-- By Kay Nolan

 10:38 PM 

Fitzgerald calls campaign 'wonderful, wonderful ride'

In a concise and unemotional concession speech, Jeff Fitzgerald thanked his brother Scott for getting him into politics and told a crowd of about 80 supporters that the U.S. Senate campaign had been a “wonderful, wonderful ride.”

Fitzgerald made his concession before the race was called for Tommy Thompson and said he could support either the former guv or Eric Hovde, who narrowly lost the race.

Fitzgerald said he’s proud of the things Republicans have accomplished and said, “our campaign has helped shape and frame the debate of what has to happen.”

“Do we want to eliminate government or have government running everything in people’s lives? I think the first part,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said moving forward people in Wisconsin are going to see a lot of great things for the state.

“It’s going to be about what this country is about, the way we took Wisconsin back, we’re going to take the country back.”

-- By Jim Cryns

 10:24 PM 

RNC chair congratulates Thompson for 'impressive victory'

RNC Chair Reince Priebus, a former state GOP chair, tweeted his congratulations to Tommy Thompson for an "impressive victory."

No official call has been made on the U.S. Senate race yet.

But Priebus tweeted, "Congratulations to @TommyForWI for an impressive victory tonight in Wisconsin. Onward to November! #CheeseheadRevolution!"

-- By JR Ross

 10:18 PM 

Vukmir: It's not over yet

Sen. Leah Vukmir said the Hovde campaign remains confident despite returns showing Thompson with a slight lead.

“It's not over yet folks,” Vukmir said. “We are still confident.”

She said there are Hovde strongholds, such as the Fox Valley, where a lot of votes have yet to be counted. She also noted that a lot of votes from Waukesha are still not counted, and that the area had a lot of undecided voters.

“Keep the faith,” Vukmir said. “Let's keep the energy going.”

-- By David Wise


 10:14 PM 

Excited crowd at Hovde party

Party-goers burst into cheers and chants of “Hovde, Hovde” when they saw themselves in a live shot on TV.

A moment later, a few in the crowd let booed when returns showed Thompson held a narrow lead.
The crowd has grown considerably here since 9 p.m., as there are about 200 now in attendance.

The mood is upbeat but a little tense, and large crowds are gathered around the various screens in the room, closely watching the returns.

--By David Wise


 10:13 PM 

Van Hollen primes Thompson supporters for victory

With Tommy Thompson maintaining his lead over businessman Eric Hovde, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen was preparing the crowd for a win as multiple people in the audience asked "Is it over?"

"Is it a great night to be a Tommy Thompson Republican?" Van Hollen, who was introduced as the honorary co-chair of the campaign, said to cheers.

Van Hollen noted that the conservative base in Wisconsin was built upon the work that Thompson did as governor. He thanked supporters and "grassroots activists" for their hard work on the campaign.

Meanwhile, the rest of the room is awaiting Thompson himself, who has been watching results in a room upstairs. While it's not official yet, campaign consultant Darrin Schmitz was quick to refer to Thompson as the "senator-elect."

"Well, on our way, anyway," Schmitz added.

-- By Jason Smathers

 10:08 PM 

Progressives pull off series of wins in Milwaukee primaries

Progressive candidates pulled off a series of wins in Milwaukee Dem primaries Tuesday, including knocking off incumbent Reps. Jason Fields and Peggy Krusick.

Various Dem sources also indicated Nikiya Harris has won the 6th SD, beating state Rep. Elizabeth Coggs for the seat of the retiring state Sen. Spencer Coggs.

The sources also indicated Sandy Pasch will win the 10th AD, La Tonya Johnson will win the 17th and Evan Goyke will win the 18th. In the 7th Dan Riemer bested Krusick, while Mandela Barnes beat Fields in the 11th.

Dem Sen. Lena Taylor, who endorsed in some of the primaries, posted a "welcome" on her Facebook page to Harris, Barnes, Pasch, Goyke and Johnson, along with Dem state Rep. Fred Kessler, who easily won his race.

Several of those races took on racial overtones in the closing weeks with some in the African-American community unhappy that Caucasian candidates such as Pasch were running in districts with large black populations.

"Good bye to 1/2 of the black representation in Wisconsin's legislature and the progress of my elders," Taylor wrote on her page.

-- By JR Ross

 9:59 PM 

Thompson out to slim lead

Tommy Thompson has a lead of three percentage points over Eric Hovde with 63 percent of precincts reporting in the GOP Senate race.

Thompson had 125,002 votes -- or 34 percent -- to Hovde's 114,502 votes. Mark Neumann trailed Hovde's 31 percent with 23 percent, while Jeff Fitzgerald remains in last place.

-- By Staff

 9:35 PM 

AP declares Kaufert winner in GOP primary

Longtime GOP state Rep. Dean Kaufert has survived a primary challenge.

The AP is projecting the former JFC co-chair will beat Jay Schroeder.

Kaufert had about two-thirds of the vote with about 60 percent of the precincts in the Neenah-area seat in.

-- By Staff

 9:34 PM 

Lasee encourages volunteers to work hard through fall, despite tonight's outcome

Sen. Frank Lasee says the Hovde campaign is cautiously optimistic as he took the stage to thank supporters for their work.

“It's neck-and-neck,” the De Pere Republican said. “We know it's competitive."

“We're cautiously optimistic,” Lasee said. “Hopefully we'll be celebrating big-time here in just a couple of hours or less.”

But regardless of the outcome, he encouraged supporters to work hard through the fall election, as they do not want to see a general election win for Tammy Baldwin, who he called “one of the most liberal members of Congress.”

-- By David Wise


 9:25 PM 

First cheer of the night for a slim Thompson lead

No speakers or address to the crowd by anyone at the Thompson victory party so far, but the first signs of tension breaking tonight -- a cheer from the crowd for a 34 to 31 percent lead for Thompson according to one of the local broadcasts, though nearly 80 percent has yet to be reported.

Most people have the same comment here -- it could be a long night. No sign of Thompson yet, though.

-- By Jason Smathers

 9:21 PM 

Hovde campaign encouraged by early returns

Hovde spokesman Sean Lansing said the campaign is feeling good as early returns show a close race between Hovde and Thompson.

“It's what we expected — a tight two-person race between Hovde and Thompson,” Lansing said. “We're very happy with where we're at right now.”

Lansing said Hovde is doing well in Milwaukee and Green Bay. He said the campaign expected Thompson to do well in Dane County, but noted turnout has been low there.

“If this trend continues, it's going to be a good night,” Lansing said.

Hovde is in a back room watching returns with his wife and two children. Lansing said Hovde is feeling upbeat and positive.

-- By David Wise


 9:15 PM 

Supporters gather for Fitzgerald's party; Scott Fitzgerald says brother needs big performance in SE Wis.

Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald's Election Night party started out as a low-key affair.

Supporters are dressed casually as they have drinks, some in shorts and others in open-collared shirts.

Twenty-year-old La Crosse student Hannah Breeson said Fitzgerald is the one and only conservative running for U.S. Senate and stood his ground when Gov. Scott Walker stood his.

"I’m pretty confident he has a chance tonight," Breeson said.

Scott Fitzgerald, Jeff's brother and the Senate minority leader, said a cursory look at the early returns suggests his brother needs southeastern Wisconsin to come in "double digits" for him to pull out the race.

Fitzgerald campaign staffer Scott Rausch said, "We don't think our major areas have come in yet."

The crowd included state Rep. Mark Honadel, R-South Milwaukee.

"I'm an eternal optimist and a loyal guy," he said. "When I pick a candidate, I stay with him to the end."

-- By Jim Cryns

 9:10 PM 

Brown County driving Hovde's early performance

Eric Hovde's returns in Brown County appear to be driving his early performance in the GOP U.S. Senate primary.

With 55 of the county's 95 precincts in, Hovde had 7,133 votes, or 45 percent, to 4,152 for Tommy Thompson, or 26 percent.

Brown County accounts for about one-fourth of Hovde's early returns statewide.

Still, returns are just trickling in for the key GOP counties of Ozaukee, Waukesha and Washington, which will likely be key in the final outcome.

-- By JR Ross

 9:02 PM 

Grothman says returns show tight race at Hovde party

About 75 people have gathered so far for Eric Hovde's Election Night party at the Milwaukee Marriott West in Waukesha.

Attendees are chatting and sipping on beverages from the cash bar and watching early returns on four large flat-screen TVs, each one tuned to a different Milwaukee affiliate. Light alternative rock is playing on a pair of large speakers.

The room is sparsely decorated, with a stage on one wall with a Hovde banner on the backdrop and a Hovde sign on the podium. A Wisconsin flag and an American flag flank the stage.
Among notables in attendance are GOP Sens. Glenn Grothman and Leah Vukmir.

Grothman briefly took the stage to thank people for coming. He said early returns show it is a tight race.

“The good news is we won't have to go home at 9 o'clock,” he quipped.

Hovde is in a back room watching returns.

-- By David Wise


 8:56 PM 

Early returns close in Senate race

With just 12 percent of precincts reporting statewide, Eric Hovde and Tommy Thompson are deadlocked on top of the GOP Senate primary.

Hovde has 32 percent to Thompson's 31 percent. Mark Neumann is currently in third place with 24 percent, and Jeff Fitzgerald trails the field at 12 percent.

-- By Andy Szal

 8:55 PM 

Pocan has big early lead in 2nd CD Dem primary

Mark Pocan has opened up a commanding lead in the early going for the 2nd CD Dem nomination.

With 14 percent of the vote in, he has 68 percent of the vote to 24 percent for fellow Madison state Rep. Kelda Roys. Matt Silverman had 5 percent, while Dennis Hall had 3 percent.

-- By Staff

 8:53 PM 

AP declares Petri winner in 6th CD GOP primary

The AP has declared U.S. Rep. Tom Petri the winner in his GOP primary with little-known challenger Lauren Stephens.

Stephens lists her home address in Beloit, some 60 miles from the edge of the 6th CD.

-- By Staff

 8:50 PM 

Neumanns arrive at Election Night party

Mark Neumann and his family arrived at the Sheraton Hotel in Brookfield by 7:45 p.m. He and his wife Sue beamed as they greeted supporters.

"Here we go," Neumann said. "This is it."

Dozens of Neumann campaigns signs in green and gold lined the parking lot and the ballroom inside, where guests were mingling and enjoying drinks.

By 8:40 p.m., nearly 60 people have arrived, and the mood is upbeat in the room.

A gigantic American flag is stretched behind a podium where Neumann will speak, along with a Neumann campaign banner that reads, "Neumann '12: Balanced budget. Repeal Obamacare."

Guests' name tags are miniature replicas of the Neumann campaign signs.

-- By Kay Nolan

 8:48 PM 

Thompson's camp expects close race, confident in his chances

While the the drinks are certainly flowing early on at the election night party for Tommy Thompson, most attendees are hopeful, though fixed to the nearest TV screen to see results.

Michael Stouffer, the Outagamie Co. head of the Thompson effort, said he thought Thompson had an 80 percent chance of winning and a 50-50 chance of a landslide. That was, of course, before returns started coming in. Right now Thompson is leading Hovde by a 2 percent margin with only 7 percent reporting.

Still, Stouffer said the conversation with his friends switched in the last few days:

"When I started talking to my friends, a lot of the conversation was about, 'Oh, I'm backing my guy,'" Stouffer said. "In the past week, all of my friends started telling me they're 'going against Tommy.' He really seems like the man to beat."

Another observer said they thought it would be a tight night with Hovde, but said that despite Hovde's prominence, he didn't have the edge.

"He's got the youth but he doesn't have the experience."

Notable attendees so far include state Sen. Rob Cowles, R-Green Bay, who has turned his attention to the election returns in the last half hour.

 -- By Jason Smathers

 8:00 PM 

Polls closed

Polls have now closed in the fall primary. Any voters in line by 8 p.m. will still be allowed to cast a ballot.

-- By Staff

 6:56 PM 

Elections officials seeing slow turnout

Election officials in several Wisconsin cities say turnout at the polls for the fall primary has been low so far, and the city of Milwaukee has ratcheted down its prediction for how many votes will be cast.

The Government Accountability Board had predicted 20 percent turnout for the state.

Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Neil Albrecht said that because there wasn't a noon rush at the polls as expected, the turnout will likely be more around 18 percent to 20 percent than the 20 percent to 25 percent originally projected.

Albrecht also noted that there have been several complaints in the area regarding "aggressive" campaigning. He said that included campaigning too close to polls, campaigning in street medians and putting political signs on publicly owned property.

The Milwaukee and Waukesha areas are expected to be key to the outcome of the U.S. Senate primary today. Officials from the city of Waukesha could not be reached for projections as of this afternoon.

The city of Green Bay said it had about 9 percent turnout as of 1 p.m., while Appleton was expecting to exceed the state average with 24 percent. The city had 8 percent turnout by 11 a.m., and an election official said those numbers usually triple by the time the polls close at 8 p.m.

Madison, home to three of the four candidates in the 2nd CD Dem primary, had 15 percent turnout as of 4 p.m. Kenosha projected turnout would finish near 15 percent, while Wausau officials said they expected 11 percent turnout.

On the western side of the state, Eau Claire said it only had 4.9 percent turnout by 11 a.m. today.

GAB Director Kevin Kennedy says the biggest problem at the polls today is the same issue that pops up with almost every statewide primary -- voters who don’t understand they can only vote in one party’s primary.

“It’s the biggest issue, and we always expect it. We appreciate what the media does to explain to people it’s one party or the other … but it’s still the biggest call at any polling place,” Kennedy said.

Elections officials also had a problem in Marinette County because they didn’t take redistricting into account when sending ballots to the town of Beaver. Instead of voting in the 12th Senate District and 36th Assembly District as they were supposed to, they got ballots for the 30th SD and the 89th AD.

The 12th SD features a Dem primary with Susan Sommer and Lisa Theo, while there is a GOP primary in the 30th SD that has John Macco and Ray Suennen.

There are no primaries in the 36th or 89th ADs.

Kennedy said the mix up affects about 75 votes, which will count for county and statewide races, but not the legislative districts.

He also said turnout was slow today, though he wouldn’t be able to determine if the state will hit the GAB’s projection of 20 percent turnout until the end of the night.

-- By Staff

 11:37 AM 

Initial polling on Ryan mixed following his selection as VP candidate

A new poll from Rasmussen Reports shows U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan with a 50 percent favorability rating in the immediate aftermath of his selection as Mitt Romney's running mate.

The poll, taken on Aug. 12-13, showed 32 percent of respondents viewing the Janesville Republican unfavorably; 13 percent were unfamiliar with Ryan and 5 percent were uncertain about him.

Rasmussen says Ryan's favorability rose from a 39 percent rating in a July survey.

The latest poll surveyed 1,000 likely voters by telephone, and had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points. Dems generally dismiss Rasmussen as biased toward Republicans.

Other recent polling showed more mixed views of Ryan nationally.

A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken of 488 registered voters over the weekend showed 53 percent of respondents hadn't heard of Ryan or didn't know enough about him to form an opinion.

Ryan had a 27 percent favorability rating in that poll, with 21 percent unfavorable. The survey, which had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 6 percentage points, said 39 percent viewed Romney's selection of Ryan as a good choice, with 45 percent rating it "only fair" or "poor." USA Today reported the results as "the most tepid reception for a running mate" since Dan Quayle joined the GOP ticket in 1988.

A poll from Reuters and Ipsos found that although 80 percent of respondents had heard of Ryan, just 35 percent said they were familiar with him.

Ryan trailed incumbent Vice President Joe Biden 44-29 when respondents were asked which candidate was more qualified to serve as president if necessary. The poll surveyed 508 registered voters between Aug. 11 and Aug. 13 -- including a day before the Ryan pick was announced; the margin of error was plus-or-minus 5.1 percentage points.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll, however, showed Ryan's favorability rising 15 points after his selection for the GOP ticket.

Among 667 randomly selected adults surveyed Aug. 8-10, Ryan was viewed favorably by 23 percent of respondents and unfavorably by 32 percent. Forty-five percent expressed no opinion.

In interviews of 522 adults on Aug. 11 and 12, the percentage of those expressing no opinion dropped to 30 percent, while 38 percent viewed Ryan favorably and 33 percent unfavorably.

That poll had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.5 percentage points.

-- By Andy Szal

 10:47 AM 

LPAC endorses Baldwin

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin has been endorsed by LPAC on the day that will determine her opponent in the November U.S. Senate election.

The group, which aims "to give lesbians a real and meaningful seat at the table," writes in its endorsement that Baldwin, D-Madison, "needs our help immediately" in her effort to become the first openly gay member of the Senate.

The group says it will match donations toward Baldwin's candidacy up to $50,000.

"Today Tammy’s opponents, four anti-gay, anti-choice men, are duking it out in the Republican primary to see who can be the most extreme," writes LPAC Chair Sarah Schmidt. "Tomorrow morning, Tammy will have a challenger, who will be able to spend 100% of his energy attacking her."

-- By Andy Szal

Monday, August 13, 2012

 12:22 PM 

Pro-Romney super PAC announces new TV ad for Wisconsin, 10 other states

The pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future announced today Wisconsin is one of 11 states where it will air a TV ad that seeks to use the president's own words against him.

The spot opens with the narrator saying, “Another month, even more Americans jobless. If you had President Obama’s record, what would you do? Would you joke?”

The spot then shows a clip of the president saying, “Shovel ready was not as shovel ready as we expected.”

The narrator cuts in, “Deny reality?”

“We tried our plan, and it worked,” Obama says in the next clip.

“Even insist?” the narrator says as the spot cuts to a clip of the president saying, “The private sector is doing fine.”

The narrator then says Obama’s allies are launching “shameful, dishonest attacks.”

“With no record to run on, it’s the only strategy Obama has left,” the narrator says to close the spot.

-- By JR Ross

 11:27 AM 

Priebus: Ryan's VP selection gives Romney 'horsepower' in Wisconsin

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Ryan's addition to the presidential ticket gives "an extra bit of horsepower" to Romney's chances in Wisconsin, claiming that Romney's prospects in the state were already looking good.

Priebus said during Sunday's “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” that with Ryan, Romney and the other notable conservatives such as Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Ron Johnson leading, they can deliver a "lights out" blow to Obama. Priebus also said that the strength on the presidential ticket will determine the strength of Wisconsin in defeating Tammy Baldwin in the race for the U.S. Senate seat.

"I think we have a winning formula in Wisconsin on the Republican side," said Priebus, the former Wisconsin GOP chair on the show, produced in conjunction with WisPolitics.com. "The electorate is very fiscally conservative. People in Wisconsin understand that you can't spend more than you take in."

While Priebus wasn't surprised by Romney's choice of Ryan, he said that Ryan meets the "threshold test" for being the vice presidential nominee and a perfect fit for the country's current predicament.

"The thing that I think Paul brings to the table is really bold dynamic leadership on the issues that matter most to Americans right now," Priebus said. "It's his time and his moment. And right now we know the economy is first and foremost. Who better than Paul Ryan to lead the way in this country, along with Mitt Romney, and correct what's been going wrong here for too long?"

When asked whether Ryan's plan to replace the current Medicare system with a voucher-based program worked to the GOP's disadvantage, Priebus said the discussion should be about Ryan's efforts to save the program from insolvency.

"Barack Obama's the one who took $700 billion out of Medicare to buy European health care that nobody wanted," Priebus said. "We can have the debate on Medicare. It's President Obama that's destroying Medicare. We're the ones that want to save Medicare for future generations."

Also on the program was state Democratic Party Chair Mike Tate, who said Obama will still carry Wisconsin with Ryan on the GOP ticket.

And Green Bay conservative talk show host Jerry Bader discussed the number of undecided voters in the U.S. Senate race.

See more from Sunday’s show here.

-- By Jason Smathers

 11:26 AM 

Thompson highlights praise from Ryan in new radio ad

A new radio ad from former Gov. Tommy Thompson highlights praise from new GOP vice presidential pick Paul Ryan to make the case for his candidacy in the U.S. Senate race.

The 60-second radio ad begins with a narrator saying presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Ryan will need a majority in the U.S. Senate to repeal Obamacare and "enact bold reforms." The ad then plays audio of Ryan at a recent Waukesha rally, where the congressman cited Thompson's role as Wisconsin governor in getting people off welfare and “onto a life of hitting their potential.”

The narrator then says Thompson is the only candidate that has "ended" an entitlement program. He then warns against what happens if the GOP fails to win Wisconsin.

"But if Republicans fail to win Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin will be Wisconsin's senator for decades," the narrator says as thunder crackles in the background. "Tommy is the conservative we can count on to defeat Baldwin, help win Wisconsin for the Romney/Ryan ticket and take control of the Senate from Harry Reid."

-- By Jason Smathers

Sunday, August 12, 2012

 8:13 PM 

Romney, Ryan tell crowd of thousands they will turn country around

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and running mate U.S. Rep Paul Ryan promised to turn the nation around during a rally that drew thousands to the Waukesha Expo Center tonight.

Ryan, his voice hoarse from a long stretch of campaigning, took the stage to loud cheers.

"It is good to be back in Wisconsin. I love Wisconsin," Ryan said. "This is such a phenomenal place to live, work and raise your family."

Ryan said that in Wisconsin, Republicans put forth ideas, implemented them and solved the problems in Madison, and that after a divisive recall election, voters said "keep doing it."

"On June 5th courage was on the ballot and courage won," Ryan said. "We saved Wisconsin that day. On Nov. 6, we will save America that day."

Ryan said that Obama offered hope when he was elected and was able to get his agenda passed. That, he said, left America with a health care system about to be taken over, economic stagnation, the slowest recovery in 70 years and the highest poverty rate in generations.

"We're not going to take that," Ryan said. "We're going to turn this thing around. We can do this."

He pointed to other problems facing America, and pointed out that former Gov. Tommy Thompson reshaped welfare in America, a reform he said Obama is reversing.

"If this president is going to do these kinds of things in a very difficult, tough election year, imagine what he would do if he never had to face voters again," Ryan said. "You know what, we're not going to find out."

Romney said he picked Ryan for his running mate because he wanted a "real leader" who is "going to help get America strong."

Romney said that during Ryan's career in politics he has become someone who is seen as an intellectual leader and who is respected in Washington.

"As vice president, he is someone who will be respected across the nation and across the world," Romney said.

As Romney spoke, a protester interrupted him, only to be drowned out with chants of "USA, USA, USA!"

"You better find a different place to be disruptive," Romney said, "because here we believe in listening to people with dignity and respect."

Romney went on to criticize Obama's campaign, saying it is the "lowest, meanest ... campaign in America."

"Mr. President, take your campaign out of the gutter," Romney said. "Let's talk about the real issues America faces."

Romney said he will turn America around by taking advantage of the country's energy resources, making sure children have the skills they need to succeed, putting "work back into welfare," seeking new markets for American goods while holding countries that cheat accountable and championing small businesses.

"This country is going to come roaring back," he said to cheers.

He went after Obama for his comments about the role of government in creating the conditions and infrastructure for business to succeed -- the comments in which he said that if you own a business "you didn't build that."

He said that while Obama complains his comment was taken out of context, that "the context was worse than the quote."

He quipped that while a bus driver plays a role in getting a child to school, he doesn't get to take credit for that child making the honor roll.

"We celebrate that achievement; you made that happen," he said. "If he gets the honor role, he gets the credit, not the bus driver."

Listen to the audio.

--By David Wise
--Photos by Miranda Rosenkranz

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